As UAB continues to build toward a return to the football field in 2017, the Blazers have added another piece to its personnel puzzle.
According to al.com, Kalin Heath has decided to transfer into the UAB program and continue his collegiate playing career with the Blazers. This past February, the running back opted to transfer out of Kansas State.
While the school has yet to confirm Heath’s addition to the roster, head coach Bill Clark indicated on Twitter that his dormant squad had gotten better a handful of days after putting the finishing touches on spring practice.
Heath was a three-star member of the Wildcats’ 2015 recruiting class coming out of the Georgia high school ranks in 2015, opting for K-State over, among others, Cincinnati, Indiana, Louisville, Marshall, Memphis, Mississippi State and Washington State. He took a redshirt as a true freshman. When UAB returns in 2017 after two seasons away, Heath will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Heath is the second FBS running back transfer Clark has added the last five months, joining Notre Dame’s Greg Bryant this past November.
The UAB Blazers are scheduled to return to the football field in 2017 after shutting down its football program at the end of the 2015 college football season. Getting back to business will be a challenge for the Blazers, but it looks as though they may have a little help in forming the schedule in the years after it revives the program.
According to a report from Al.com, Auburn and UAB are discussing potential plans to schedule a future football game. The Tigers do not have any scheduling vacancies to fill until 2019, so UAB would have to wait for the opportunity to play the in-state SEC program for the first time since 1996. That meeting in 1996 is the only meeting in the football series history between the two Alabama schools.
“I’ve had good conversations with Auburn,” UAB athletics director Mark Ingram said. “Jay Jacobs, the [Auburn] athletic director, is a good friend of mine. He and I have talked about it. It’s about finding the right year.”
As is so often the case in college football scheduling, non-conference commitments can fill up years in advance, especially for power conference programs like Auburn. When UAB does return to the field, they will rejoin Conference USA and will be scrambling to find some non-conference opponents to fill out its schedule. UAB has been busy doing what it can though and has already booked future games against SEC opponents Florida (2017) and Texas A&M (2018). Ingram says he was attempting to get Auburn on the schedule in 2017, but the Tigers were not available, but the dialogue has been opened.
“I think their first availability was ’19 and I needed ’17,” Ingram said. “I’ve had conversations with them. They’re interested. We’re interested. It’s just a matter of getting the guarantee right and getting the matchup right.”
Ingram is also focused on signing a deal that is most rewarding for UAB.
“Would you rather play Virginia, who is a good team that would pay $800,000 or would you rather play Auburn and they’re going to pay you $1.5 million? I guess Auburn’s the better team than Virginia, but you don’t know that when you set it up. When you’re going to play one, you might as well get paid. You might as well get what you can get.”
Get paid, UAB. Get paid.
The rebirth of UAB football continues to be underway. Days after signing its latest recruiting class (which actually ranked ahead of four Conference USA teams) and confirming its coaching staff to continue preparing for the program’s return in 2017, UAB’s Board of Trustees approved the funding for a $15 million football facility to be built on campus.
The 46,000-square foot facility will include updated locker rooms, administrative offices weight rooms and more to allow for the operation of a steady football program. This is the kind of support the program lacked at the time it was temporarily and hastily shutdown at the end of the 2014 season. It is important to keep in mind, however, this is still a work in progress for the university as it prepares to properly support its football program.
“Do the stars need to align a little bit? Yes, but so far they are,” UAB Athletic Director Mark Ingram said, per Al.com. “We feel great about the design efforts… People are making pledges.”
UAB head coach Bill Clark, who has admirably opted to stay in Birmingham to lead the program through this unique time, seems appreciative of the show of support from the university’s higher-ups.
“It’s just confirmation of where we’ve already been headed,” Clark said. “It’s a process that you go through at the university level to get buildings built, and for them to put phase one and phase two together is a big deal because it really just speeds the process up.”
Linebacker Jake Ganus transferred to Georgia last year following the abrupt shutdown of the UAB football program by the school. Ganus went on to have a standout season in Athens and earned team MVP honors. Now at the Senior Bowl, Ganus is staying true to his roots and representing the UAB program back in Alabama.
“I’ve had that helmet with me for a while,” Ganus after Senior Bowl practice Thursday, per SEC Country. “I spent three years there, I have hundreds of teammates and a bunch of coaches. I just wanted today to be the day I could just honor them. It’s all about my teammates. They got me to Georgia, those coaches got me to Georgia, those coaches they gave me a scholarship and I’m grateful to them and UAB for that. I’ll be wearing the Georgia helmet on Saturday, but I just want to take a day and thank them.”
Of course, nobody from the Georgia community will be likely to have a problem not seeing Ganus wearing the signature red helmet with the “G” logo, considering the story that led Ganus to Georgia. But don’t worry Georgia fans, Ganus appreciates all of your support too.
“I’ve got two fan bases behind me, it’s awesome.”
UAB reversed its original decision to eliminate football, but the Blazers are not expected to play again until the 2017 season at the earliest. UAB head coach Bill Clark has remained committed to seeing the program return to the field despite reports of Southern Mississippi having interest in the Blazers coach taking over as its head coach.
Two weeks from this very moment, your team’s recruiting class will likely be wrapped up. The National Letters of Intent will be in, the fax machine taking a breather until next year, the press release sent and your head coach’s ever-so-pleased press conference completed.
But there is much to do between now and the first weekend in February.
Understanding that this is essentially taking a snapshot of a scoreboard merely entering the fourth quarter, here is how the top 25 recruiting classes in the country stack up according to Rivals.com:
1. Ohio State
3. Ole Miss
4. Notre Dame
6. Florida State
10. Michigan State
14. Texas A&M
16. North Carolina
17. Penn State
A handful of teams I’d bet the farm on — grandpa’s prize heifer included — rising between now and Signing Day are Alabama (currently ranked 11th), Oklahoma (27th), Tennessee (30th) and Texas (42nd).
Also, UAB, who won’t play football again until 2017, presently boasts the nation’s 52nd-ranked recruiting class, tied with N.C. State and Iowa State, and just head of Arizona and Illinois.